Humble ‘Hash’ is just the man

2010-08-31 00:00

HAVING worked with the man from his rapid, wristy development right through to the fluent, silent assassin that has made the problematic number three slot his own, Graeme Ford is better placed than most to judge Hashim Amla’s leadership credentials.

Amla has emerged as a prime candidate to take over the 50-over captaincy once Graeme Smith steps down after the fast approaching World Cup in India early next year.

Amla’s stock has risen considerably in the last two years, with his bat doing most of the talking.

Ford says the tenacious, but humble touch that the reigning SA Cricketer of the Year would bring may be just the tonic.

“I think the big thing about ‘Hash’ is that he has earned huge respect, massive respect worldwide being just the way he is,” Ford told The Witness last night.

“I think he has got the balance just right, in that he is extremely humble, but also has a strong will,which he shows at the crease.”

Soft-spoken but highly passionate, Amla has already demonstrated an ability to rise to the challenge.

His own technique was the source of derisory comments when he first emerged, as he flashed his blade from the unlikeliest of angles.

But, sensibly, Amla ironed out certain elements — while still backing his natural ability — and the results have borne some rather sparkling fruit.

Ford says it is that same calm and awareness that would stand Amla in excellent stead.

World cricket is filled with a cacophony of captaincy styles, ranging from the astute handling of the well-educated Andrew Strauss, the dashing MS Dhoni and through to the gum-chomping Ricky Ponting and his tattered baggy green.

It takes all sorts, and Ford for one thinks Amla’s ability to lead by sheer weight of contribution would find resonance in the Proteas’ camp.

“I think he would do a great job, and having watched him captain from a very young age, I know he has an excellent cricket brain.”

Indeed, Amla’s CV lists SA-under 19 skipper and a very early first tilt at the Dolphins’ reins.

While he may have relinquished the Dolphins’ job to work on his own game, Amla is still a strong figure in the Kingsmead dressing-room — when available, of course.

“He hasn’t played much for us in the last few years, but when he is back he certainly brings a wealth of experience to the table. He is a highly intelligent man, and tactically his ideas are very sound,” Ford continued.

Amla will certainly give the national selectors food for thought when he vies with newly elected T20 captain Johan Botha for the ODI job next year.

Meanwhile, Ford’s young Dolphins squad has been putting in the hard yards through the winter.

Having had a much-needed spring-clean towards the end of last season, Ford is excited at the long-term prospects for KZN cricket.

“A number of youngsters have definitely stepped up,” he explained.

“They aren’t match-winners in franchise cricket just yet, but they have shown a hunger to grow and learn, which is obviously exciting.”

Young left-arm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi, who made the move from the Lions, is “settling in nicely”, though a finger injury has restricted him from playing in the clutch of warm-up matches held over the last month.

“He is on the mend, though, and he will bring a great, new dimension to our attack,” Ford enthused.

With Imran Tahir also due back when the county season ends, the Dolphins certainly won’t lack for bowling option.

Ford also confirmed that the Dolphins will play a warm-up, four-day match against the Cape Cobras at the Maritzburg Oval from September 13 -16.

Ford added that the Cobras had specifically pushed back the match date in order to allow their SA ‘A’ players to join them, so one can expect a fair sprinkling of talent at the Oval in two weeks’ time.

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